Your Guide to Romantic Films
In honor of AFI’s 100 YEARS…100 PASSIONS: The 100 Greatest Love Stories Of All Time, this month the AFI Catalog‘s team of film researchers compiled a shortlist of the best films exploring the complexities of love.
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957) Nominated for four Academy Awards®, this oft-referenced film stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr as Nickie and Terry who – despite being engaged to other people – fall in love with one another and vow to reunite atop the Empire State Building in six months. (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE fans will recognize this as one of the movies Meg Ryan’s character obsesses over.)
CASABLANCA (1943) Humphrey Bogart plays a cynical American expatriate forced to confront his past when his former lover, played by Ingrid Bergman, shows up at his bar with her new husband. The film ends with one of cinema’s most recognizable lines, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
CLAUDINE (1974) Starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll, this romantic dramedy follows Claudine (Carroll) as she navigates falling in love and being a single black mother in New York City. Carroll, a trail-blazing singer and actress, earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress for her performance.
GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) Egotistical weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) finds himself reliving the same day in a never-ending time loop, with the only bright spot being his charming and independent colleague Rita (Andie MacDowell).
HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) Directed by Hal Ashby, this coming-of-age existential dark comedy explores the relationship between a death-obsessed 20-year-old and an eccentric 80-year-old woman.
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) Clark Gable as a reporter in need of a story and Claudette Colbert as an heiress on the run from her family make an unlikely pair in this quintessential screwball comedy. The film was the first to win Academy Awards® in the five major categories, Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.
THE LOVE LIGHT (1921) Written and directed by Frances Marion, this silent-era black-and-white drama follows a WWI lighthouse keeper (Mary Pickford) who unwittingly falls in love with the enemy.
MOONSTRUCK (1987) In this romantic dramedy, an Italian American widow (Cher) falls in love with her new fiancé’s younger brother (Nicolas Cage). The film garnered six Academy Award® nominations and won in three categories, including Best Actress for Cher.
NOW, VOYAGER (1942) Ranked 23 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions list, the film stars Bette Davis in a role that earned her an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress and features the famous line, “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”
SAY ANYTHING… (1989) John Cusack, a boombox and “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel catapulted this teen rom-com into cult status.
SOMETHING GOOD-NEGRO KISS (1903) According to scholars and archivists, this recently discovered 29-second film may represent the earliest example of African-American intimacy on-screen.
SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (1927) “For wherever the sun rises and sets, in the city’s turmoil or under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same: sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet.” Released during the first year of the Academy Awards®, this film won the award for Best Cinematography and an award for Best Unique and Artistic Picture (the category was discontinued after the first year).
TRUE ROMANCE (1993) Penned by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott, TRUE ROMANCE features pop culture references, brutal violence, intense action and an unexpected love story.
TURN BACK THE CLOCK (1933) In this pre-code MGM fantasy comedy-drama, a poor cigar store owner Joe (Lee Tracy) has the chance to go back in time and marry a wealthy woman, only to discover it isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
VERTIGO (1958) A love story wrapped up in psychological thriller, VERTIGO stars James Stewart as an acrophobic private detective who confronts his fears to uncover the truth about the woman he loves.
THE WEDDING BANQUET (1993) Nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film, this romantic comedy about parental pressure and familial expectations was Academy Award®-winner Ang Lee’s first film released theatrically in the U.S.
THE WILD PARTY (1929) One of Paramount’s first all-dialogue films, this fun pre-code romp about a college student and professor falling in love also marked the sound film debut of director Dorothy Arzner and actress Clara Bow.
To view the entire list of Romantic films on the AFI Catalog, click here.